For Chris Scott (pictured), associate claims team manager at Travelers Europe, being able to provide a timely, accessible and bespoke claim experience is only possible by understanding that the claims process cannot operate in an organisational silo. Having originally qualified as a lawyer, and with 13 years of experience in the claims space, Scott is well-versed in the role that collaboration plays in supporting a customer in their hour of need. It is a role that is particularly relevant within the cyber claims space, where the end goal is to get the insured back to doing what they do best as quickly as possible.
Scott explained: “It is so important to work in a joined-up fashion; to work together to achieve better results and to make sure we are giving the right level of service to our clients. We have regular catchups with the cyber underwriters when a claim comes in, so they are aware of the types of claims we are seeing and we can warn other insureds of the issues to look out for.”
With several years of experience operating in the cyber claims environment, Scott has seen first-hand how these claims differ from other areas of insurance, the key difference being the pace at which they must be handled. Scott noted that time is of the essence when a cyber claim lands on your desk as you are often dealing with sensitive personal data.
“Our goal is to handle the cyber claim within two hours from first notification,” he said. “However, 99% of the time we have things underway within the first hour.”
This metric is made possible through the strong partnerships that Travelers has established, including those with the law firms Kennedys and Pinsent Masons who act as breach coaches on cyber incidents. This allows the insured to be guided through the claims process, not only by the experienced Travelers claims professional, but also giving them direct and immediate access to experts in the field of cyber security .
Having dealt with cyber claims, particularly in the US, for a number of years, Travelers has been able to establish a broad panel of approved vendors including IT experts and PR companies who can address the full range of challenges an insured may face when dealing with a cyber incident. In such situations, he emphasised, speed is of the essence and having a team of experts assembled and immediately available means that an action plan can be implemented swiftly to resolve the cyber event.
The time-sensitive and constantly evolving nature of the cyber area means continuous evaluation of key trends is essential. This is something that has become more relevant than ever during the uncertainty of the COVID-19 crisis, which has provided new opportunities for those looking to commit cyber breaches.
Also notable, he said, was the rise of COVID-related scams, but with national lockdowns in place, there was a distinct reduction in the number of lost or stolen devices, which has been directly linked to the reduced movement of the overall population. Ransomware (where a criminal holds a company’s data hostage) and phishing (scam emails) attacks have been on the rise, but Scott noted this is not directly connected to the pandemic but rather something that has been on the incline for a while, being a peril of the digitally-connected modern world.
“I think we will still continue to see an increase in claims, and an uptick in ransomware,” he said, “but I think that with the guidance that we are able to share, more people are becoming aware of the types of cyber issues that are around. Education and thought leadership is really key to ensuring more people are aware of their own cyber exposures. This results in better risk management techniques. For example, providing training for staff, putting the right practices and procedures in place and making sure that they have an incident response plan ready in the event a breach occurs.”
A solid and well-rehearsed incident response plan is the bedrock of having a great claims experience, Scott said. As such, while insurers and brokers must increase the awareness of insureds about the cyber space and the implications of a cyberattack, an essential part of that education needs to encompass how to build a great response plan.
This will allow insureds to know who they should be contacting and when, as well as what key decision-makers need to be on hand to deal with any incident. In order to provide the best possible service insurers and breach coaches need to have the right person on the other end of the line who can agree on the resolution plan.
“Assuming it can never happen to your company is no plan at all,” he said. “Instead, being prepared and ensuring your incident response plan is ready to go if the need should arise, is the best form of defence. It can give you and your company peace of mind that you are ready to go if faced with a cyber incident.”
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